Pinterest: What’s it all about?

7 minute read

In the last few weeks Pinterest has gained a huge surge in interest, with news stories popping up in my RSS, Facebook and Twitter feed. A few of us Sign-Up.to folk have been left wondering why all the sudden interest now? It’s a website that’s been around for a while but it’s only now that interest in the UK is picking up. That aside, I’ll use this blog post to explore what it’s about, it’s impact on business and, more personally, why I’ve fallen a bit in love with it.

What is Pinterest?

Time describe Pinterest as ‘a visually dazzling bulletin board, enabling users to bookmark and curate images.’  It’s gaining popularity in the UK and Mashable’s recent infographic states that there are over 12 million unique users a month.

It’s essentially a virtual pinboard, you can create as many boards as you like and ‘pin’ things to them. For example, I made a board of places I’d like to visit and pinned a picture of San Francisco to it. Users can either follow you (and all your boards) or just the boards that are of interest to them (e.g. I followed someone’s board of San Fransisco pictures). Users can like or repin photos, and searching for topics of interest is really easy.

I spent a few hours playing with Pinterest and in setting up an account I had to integrate it with my Facebook or Twitter account, which made me a little nervous considering the constant talk about privacy and permissions. I was asked to tell Pinterest some of my interests and it instantly followed a few accounts they thought I’d like, as well as all my Facebook friends already using the site. One thing that really grabbed my attention is how many people I know are already using Pinterest, and I’m not just talking about my usual batch of tech savvy friends. People who normally steer away from new social sites have had pages up and running for ages (yes, I text one of my best friends in shock at seeing her on there!).

In order to broaden their reach, the Pinterest team have also created a ‘Pin it’ bookmark – making it easy to pin any image you’ve seen online. It’s only available for Chrome at the moment, but I don’t suspect it’ll be too long before that changes. An iPhone app is also available (I can hear Android users sighing), and it lets you do everything you can do on the web. The web and iPhone versions both let you upload your own images too.

It’s not Tumblr

In the last year I’ve become a huge fan of Tumblr – I use it personally and also manage the Sign-Up.to Tumblr page. What I like about Pinterest, however, is that it sticks with a standardised layout, but users can create their own ‘boards’ and organise content to the nth degree. Tumblr has always felt a little messy and while the page designs they offer are really fantastic, navigating from page to page feels a little bumpy sometimes. On the other hand Tumblr lets you queue posts to be automatically posted at regular intervals, and that’s a massive advantage when managing a business page.

A business point of view

There are two ways in which a business can utilise Pinterest – 1. Join it and set up a page and 2. Place that all important ‘Pin it’ button on your website. It’s very early days for this social media platform but it certainly has promise, there are over 4 million users and the average daily visitor will spend around 14 minutes on the site. I’ve already spotted that  sites such as Etsy and JamieOliver.com have placed a ‘pin it’ button on all their product pages, helping the reach of their offering spread further. I have been surprised to see that there aren’t more fashion sites on board with it though, given the very visual nature of Pinterest!

If you’re considering setting up a page make sure it’s relevant to your business and worth your time. Showcasing your products on Pinterest will quickly let people share your products with their friends, but even if you don’t have a tangible product Pinterest could still be useful. Let’s say you own a venue which hosts various events, you could create boards for weddings, parties, corporate events etc. The content would be informal, but relevant, and appeal to people potentially interested in such an event.

All in all, I’m impressed with Pinterest. It’s straightforward and allows for pages to be personalised really easily. From a business point of view it allows content to be shared easily, reaching a wider audience than ever before. Tumblr has had great success but Pinterest could quickly become a strong rival, its growth in the coming months is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Have you joined Pinterest? What do you think of it? I’d love to hear your opinion on it, especially if you’re already using it for your business. Drop me an email or leave a comment below!